Center for Women and Returning Adults

The Language of College

Every occupation or field of endeavor has terminology know only to "insiders". As an adult student entering college for the first time or reentering the college community after a lapse of some years, you may find some of the terms baffling. Listed below are some of the many terms which you will hear over and over again in college:

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A faculty member or professional educator who advises students about their individual academic program. A good advocate!
To take a course without credit. Student is not required to take exam or submit work for review. No grade, no credit, some cost.


Level of progress toward the bachelor's degree. An undergraduate student is classified as Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, or Senior, depending on the number of semester hours completed and grade points earned.
College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
Tests developed by the College Entrance Examination Board which determine the extent of a student's knowledge in a particular subject area. These tests are used to award college credit in certain subject areas.
A particular emphasis within a major.
A course which must be taken at the same time as another specified course.
A specific subject of study.
Course (or Class) Load
The number of semester hours for which a student is registered in a semester. Course loads can be Part-Time (less than 12 semester hrs.), Full-Time (12-18 semester hrs.), and Overload (over 18 semester hrs., requiring special approval).
The numerical value awarded upon completion of specified studies, usually based on class meeting length and frequency. At IPFW credit is stated in semester hours.
The whole body of courses offered by the college, or by one of its divisions or departments.


An organizational unit representing a discipline or related disciplines, such as Department of Foreign Languages.
An area of study representing a branch of knowledge, such as Mathematics.
The ability to drop out of a class without grade penalty, or to add a class. Process requires seeing an advisor. Time limits are in the schedule of classes.


An opportunity for students already enrolled at the college to select courses for the next semester before new students register.
A course not specifically required for a particular major or minor.
Usually a comprehensive test given at midterm, at the end of a course, or at the end of some significant portion of a course.


Fine Arts Courses
Certain courses in art, theatre and music.
Fully-Matriculated Student
An enrolled student who has been accepted through the Admissions Office as a degree candidate.


General Education Courses
Courses designed to help students acquire a broad base of knowledge and capabilities fundamental to the concept of a university education.
A letter A, B, C, D, F representing the professor's evaluation of the student's work.
Grade Points
A numerical representation of the value of a letter grade for a course (A=4, B=3, C=2, D=l, F=O) multiplied by the semester hours awarded for a course. Examples: a grade of "A" for a 1 semester hour Physical Education course is worth 4 grade points; an "B" in a 3 semester hour English course is worth 9 grade points.
Grade Point Average
The total number of grade points earned divided by the total number of semester hours carried. For example, a student who earns 36 grade points while carrying a course load of 15 semester hours would earn a GPA of 2.40 for the semester.
Graduation Application
A form to fill out to officially apply for graduation.
Graduate Student
A student who has received a bachelor's degree and has been admitted to the School of Graduate Studies.


Humanities Courses
Certain courses in English, history, foreign languages, and philosophy and religion.


Identification (ID) card
An official card given to students currently enrolled in the university, used to acquire access to the Sports Center and borrow library books. Obtained in Walb Union.
Temporary grade that student and professor agree upon. Requires specific work to be completed in a specific time frame. If work is not complete, the grade becomes an F.
Interdisciplinary Courses
Courses which deal with two or more academic subjects in a particular field of study.


Life-Long Learning
An expression of the concept that education should continue throughout one's lifetime.


The academic area in which a student chooses to place principal emphasis, requiring a minimum of 24 credit hours of specified courses in it.
The approximate halfway point of a semester.
A coherent curriculum of study that is less extensive than a major and consists of specified courses from one or more fields of study.


Non-Credit Courses
Courses offered by the School of Continuing Studies which address the personal and professional development needs of the IPFW community but do not carry academic credit.


Activities and programs designed to help the new student become acquainted with the college.


Grade option that is available with electives. Your advisor can make you aware of any restrictions of its use.
Permanent Record
The card on which the Registrar lists all student's courses, semester hours credit, grades, status and certain personal information.
Placement Tests
Tests given by college departments which determine a student's level of proficiency in a particular subject area. These tests are used to place students in classes at the appropriate level for their abilities.
Post-Baccalaureate Student
A student who has already received a bachelor's degree and is taking more undergraduate courses.
A requirement which must be met before a particular course can be taken.


A brief test, sometimes unannounced, and usually, not requiring a full class period.


The courses for which a student is enrolled during a semester or summer term.
A portion of the school year in which courses can be completed. Spring and Fall semesters are about 15-16 weeks, Summer semester are much shorter.
Semester Hour
The unit of credit used by schools on the semester plan.
Social Science Courses
Courses in anthropology, economics, political science, psychology, or sociology.
A syllabus is an outline or other brief statement of what a professor expects to cover for the entire semester. It will often include an exact schedule of assignment due dates, test dates, grading system, and any issues a professor wishes to make absolutely clear.


Term Paper
A written assignment requiring students to gather knowledge through documented research, from numerous sources, on a specific topic, and presented in an orderly fashion; length varies, but 5-10 typewritten pages is not unusual.
The assigned book for a course.
An official copy of a student's permanent academic record. Obtained through the Registrar's Office.


A college student who has not yet received a bachelor's degree.


Dropping all classes. To do so without the proper forms from your advisor can result in financial and/or academic (F's) penalty. Late withdrawal (past last day to withdraw) are available for extraordinary circumstances.
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